The Perils of Leaving Home…

vintage old car pic- jeremy 1When Southerners leave home- they face certain perils that have more to do with customs, language barriers, expectations and leading a sheltered life. I’m talking about travel within the continuous United States, not abroad. It’s a given that travelling abroad brings it own set of perils. Since Southerners-

  •  Talk slower, our conversations have a certain twang,
  • We tend to expect good manners, we like to wave, look folks in the eye, smile-
  • And let’s face it a Southern lady is going to flirt, unless she’s dowdy, plain and prim- even then, another region might even bring out her innate abilities. I know it’s unlikely, but still, it could happen.

I love New York, Philadelphia and Boston; have been to each of them several times and would go back in a New York minute, yet I know I will most likely face perils, fall in a trap of my own doing.  New York is always the subject of much discussion among those of us who have actually left home from time to time.IMG_0238

I recall a friend telling me that she thought her taxi driver was a Sultan whose day job was to drive a cab but who surely had a bit part in the Broadway hit-Aladdin. Upon getting in the taxi, she squealed, ‘Harold Joe, ask this fine specimen of a man to take us to the Taj Mahal!’ The driver never spoke a word from airport to the hotel despite her exclamations the whole way! IMG_0266

Then, there is the issue of closet space in the hotel-  no room for her grandmother’s Humpback Trunk (just kidding but we do tend to seriously overpack) or even a hot plate for the Grits her mother insisted on sending. We need our space and our comfort food.

vintage old car pic- jeremy 2 Speaking of housing, a friend was moving to New York with her college roommate, the friend said, ‘I’m hoping we can find a Co-Op somewhere in the Village.’ Let me tell you, where I’m from- a Co-Op is the ‘Seed and Feed, Barbed Wire, Bush Hog Parts, Bedding Plants and Chainsaw Blade Shop’ and is certainly not in a Village! Now why would anyone want to live in one of those? We understand the desire to go to New York to shop– however, the thought of moving there with all of that noise, sy-reens (ambulances) blaring all night, underground subways- not to mention it’s cold as kraut; we cannot imagine actually living there full time! We warn our young if they take a wild hair and want to leave home-

You don’t want to move off up there, you’ ll get mugged, lost underground on those subways, fall off the Brooklyn Bridge and not have a penny to your name to call your daddy to come get you!’

Then, we pull out the big guns and put the fear of God in them…‘It’s just isn’t done…a beautiful young lady running wild with no chaperone. It’s beneath you, I tell you- trashy.’ To be honest, if she’s got her heart set on moving, not a word we say will be heard. She will know we’re right, when those folks figure out Mary Jim-

  •  Has to be waited on hand and foot,
  •  Stays on her high horse and
  • Flirts- Who would hire her much less take her serious?IMG_0483 (1)

No doubt the food is wonderful- just takes a bit of getting used to. Still. Take Carnegie Deli. The waiters aren’t given to dawdling while a Southern lady gets oriented, situated and tries in vain to spread out-tote bag on the next chair and coat neatly folded over the chair back- Oh no, you’re jammed in there like a sardine next to folks who would rather not be in such close quarters either. IMG_0401

At Carnegie Deli, the waiters simply have no patience for a Southern lady taking her own sweet time perusing the menu.

  • ‘Hey Good lookin’ whatcha got cooking? (flirt) Why, don’t you look nice tonite? (cajole)  What would you recommend? Oh, Corned Beef? My daddy likes to fatten up his hogs and beef cattle with Corn but his daddy always thought Grass Fed Beef was better.’
  • ‘ Okay, lady I haven’t got all night here!’
  • Her nostrils flare, she stiffens her spine- The nerve, the very nerve, trying to rush her like that!’
  • ‘Whaddya have?’
  • ‘ I, sir, am a lady but I am willing to overlook your rude behavior being as how you are obviously  so overworked- I will have a corned beef- Harold Joe, are you getting loaf bread? I think, I’ll just go hog wild and get that rye bread! And sweet tea, please.’
  •  The waiter moves off in a huff, but not before shoving the little rack of sugar packets and yelling out near obscene language. When the corned beef sandwich is plopped down in front of her, it is huge…
  • ‘Well now, Harold Joe, how do you expect me to eat all this? I do believe there’s a whole side of beef on my plate! There won’t be room left for a slice of that gen-u-ine New York Cheesecake!’
  • The waiter sets down the billin short order; she daintily slides over her daddy’s Black American Express Card-  He says, ‘Cash only Lady!’

She about dies. Now in the first place, unless a Southerner has established who your people are and knows a little something about your background, shevgoes by the looks of you;  your manners speak volumes about your character. Not to mention, Southerners get very uncomfortable discussing money…

  • He should be able to tell by her looks that money is not an issue and therefore know her credit is impeccable;
  • But to be so loud and bold about it, well.. it’s just a good thing Harold Joe has that big wad of cash in his billfold chained to his belt!
  • Her voice goes up a full octave; determined not to lower her standards- ‘Darlin’ would you accommodate this gentleman as soon as humanly possible?’

The mode of transporting Southerners is essential, we tend to like those Double Decker Tour Buses- we always ride on top so we can see everything and wave to our hearts content just like Dignitaries and Beauty Queens in parades back home.  The peril of Tour Buses is with the earplugs– you won’t find a southern accent on any station- they offer French, Spanish and Mandarin Chinese and end up saying, ‘It all sounds Greek to me, I didn’t understand a word he said.’

It is perilous for folks from the Lower Coastal South to go to the top of Skyscrapers- I heard one lady tell her husband she just knew they were up higher than Look Out Mountain, Tennessee. She felt faint right before her knees buckled.

IMG_0238Times Square is perilous too- there’s so much going on it’s hard to concentrate, not to mention the half naked officer directing traffic- he might have on patriotic skivvies and cowboy boots, Harold Joe is convinced he’s an undercover cop but really! No self respecting Officer of the Law would be caught dead in the South in a get-up like that! Broadway Shows are where we really shine…

  • Since a Southerner will pay an enormous amount of money for tickets to an SEC game-
  • Tell them they can get 50 yard line tickets (ahem, front and center  Orchestra theatre tickets) They will pay whatever the price…
  • We might not understand the ‘will call’ issue but we do love the playacting and the crazy characters on Broadway…Time's Square

After all, given the choice, we tend to love the most Bizarre Plots and Twisted Tales especially when a Skeleton clatters out of a Closet!  We will always  favor the Eccentric Aunt or the Crazy Uncle- Every. Single. Time!  Yes, there are perils associated with leaving home… then again, we subject ourselves to it over and over again! Now, you know I’m gonna say this- Like all good Southern tales, this one is part truth, part myth and part outright lies! Hopefully, good for a laugh or two!

Love y’all, Camellia

P.S. I love Philadelphia, time would not permit my southern experience with ordering Philly Cheesesteaks! I love Boston- it makes me laugh to hear those folks say- ‘Get in the CA’… not too estranged from a Southern accent- Hah-vahd Squah…just slays me! But I truly love New York! One of my very dearest friends lives in New York ! Hello and love you Elizabeth!

And…I have mourned, truly mourned the closure of Carnegie Deli, but hey, there’s always Katz’s!

*Photographs are obviously mine (excuse the mixed tones!) However, the two beauties by the car, and the one in the driver’s seat- belong to Jeremy Miniard- I love those vintage pics Jeremy! http://www.jwminiard.fineartsofamerica.com Go say hey to Jeremy!

Barns of Alabama…

SONY DSCI always feel that Barns are like ladies- Caretakers of Domestication…

Some are Well Maintained-

Or Run down and Lonesome…

Some are Stunning Beauties,

Some are Serene- barn jeremy 28

Some are Falling Apart-

Some are Showing Signs of Wear and Tear, Some have Weathered Storms, a Tornado or Two…

Others are  Aging Gracefully, Silvered and Gray….

barn jeremy 8When I see a Barn…  If she’d tell me her Life Story-SONY DSC

I’d listen all day.

Love y’all, Camellia

*It’s always a good time for a Road Trip along the countryside, away from the hustle and bustle of life…SONY DSC

I hope you enjoy these outstanding photographs from Jeremy Miniard’s Backroads of Alabama…the beautiful Barns of Alabama. Photographs are the sole property of Jeremy – find him at http://www.jeremy.miniard.fineartsamerica.com

 

Icebox Pies…

IMG_3201When the weather is hot as blue blazes, our skin begins to glow (that’s the nicest way I can say it) and as the humidity rises so does our hair, inevitably  the Southern Sweet Tooth flares up- Cool Ice Box Pies are the perfect summer dessert. A few ingredients, easy to make- without breaking a sweat- an Icebox Pie is truly easier than making homemade ice cream.  Some have even figured how to make it without turning on an oven, just use a prepared graham crust.  I’d rather make my own pie crust mainly because I can control how much sugar and how deep the crust will be- and I like crust! But hey it’s summer- take it easy if you want to… In Alabama, it’s amazing but children are already back in school! Icebox pies are a sweet reminder of vacations– remember that Key Lime Pie you ate? And.. you’ll know you’re in a good place to eat out just by tasting their Ice Box Pies! There are all kinds of Ice Box Pies- some have cooked pudding or custard fillings-however…IMG_3295

Citrus Ice Box Pies are my favorite-

  • Pit Barbeque whines for relief with Lemon Ice Box Pie,
  • Seafood and spicy Mexican Food seem to whimper for cooling Key Lime Pie,
  • Sour Orange Ice Box Pie- is the perfect ending for Chicken dinners, a cool Chicken Salad.

Sweetened Condensed Milk is essential to Citrus Ice Box Pies. I guess the only ‘southern’ ingredient in them could be considered the plentiful citrus we grow down this way.. New Yorker Gail Borden Jr. received a patent on Sweetened Condensed Milk August 19, 1856 and darlin’ I’m celebrating! IMG_3296

In an effort to find a way to store milk safely (when you don’t have a cow nearby) he developed a method of evaporating the liquid and using sugar as a preservative which produced sweetened condensed milk. Southerners embraced the product wholeheartedly. Why,  teethin’ babies were comforted with a small square of cotton fabric soaked in it, thinned out? It was used a baby formula, in the sick room- sweet cool and creamy, condensed milk was considered a safe food supplement.  Straight from the can- well, let’s don’t go there because I could possibly eat the whole can! Gail Borden, Jr. spent some time working for a newspaper in Texas before he came up with his famous dairy products and has been credited with the phrase- ‘Remember the Alamo’ and I can tell you, a can of sweetened condensed milk will defeat a whole low calorie diet!  Of course, southern folks began making desserts, candies, cakes and pies- Oh my, what glorious pies originated from the humble can of Eagle Brand, we cannot live without it!

Sweetened Condensed Milk was originally sold by Borden to maintain the U.S. Army during all of that unpleasantness of the War between the States. Shortly, after the war -sweetened condensed milk, in a new and improved version became available nationally, it was especially embraced in the Southern States because of it’s long shelf life which has always been of concern here. Throughout our history, in the South, what we share in common is our love of good food.  Sweetened Condensed Milk was patented first in America and a short time later in Switzerland. Since then, it has been embraced literally all over the world!

You might be interested to know that Key Lime Pie first showed up on Southern tables in 1901. And just in case you’re thinking Ice Box Pies are a relatively new concoction, they’ve been around over 150 years!  Key Limes are not to be confused with Persian Limes- key limes are tiny- about the size of a quail egg; are more tart and almost yellow in color- Persian limes are the bright green limes of grocery produce department stores. The truth is most true Key Limes are imported from the Caribbean or for a very limited time in the Florida Keys and are very costly. Key Limes are no longer widely available and that’s a shame…Modern Key Lime Pie recipes call for the addition of Lemon Juice and Persian Lime zest to make a blend which tastes more like the real deal.

Sour Orange Ice Box Pies have an almost identical history- Sour Oranges were once found in the Alabama Sunbathing Capital, Orange Beach!  Sour Orange trees are little scrubby trees bearing.. a ‘pucker up baby’ Sour Orange flavor. Almost all of the Coastal South had some of these small citrus trees- the ones that survive are still not considered valuable- too little flesh and too many seeds…Sour Oranges can be found in specialty markets, but never on a large scale. To get that Sour Orange flavor-mix Equal Parts:

  •  Lemon juice, Orange Juice with Orange Zest and Grapefruit Juice to mimic the flavor of an actual Sour Orange.
  • I  like to add about a teaspoon of Orange Marmalade, 1/4 teaspoon of orange extract- even a dribble of orange blossom water is a nice addition!

IMG_3301Almost all Ice Box Pies start with a Graham Cracker Crust. Talk about an interesting product!  Evangelist and hard core prohibitionist, Sylvester Graham is credited with the first vegetarian movement in the United States in the 1800’s… He believed wholesome foods would result in wholesome living… Alrighty. Anyway, Honey Grahams® became the standard Graham Crackers that we know as the base for those chocolate-y toasted marshmallow-y fireside treats known as S’mores– and other, almost sinful desserts! Wonder what ol’ Sylvester would think of that?IMG_3302

And let’s not forget a wholesome ingredient in Graham Crackers- Honey. The finest- often called the gold standard of American produced honey, is Tupelo Honey. (not Tupelo Mississippi) For just a very few weeks along the Coastal South, the Black Gum or Tupelo Trees bloom- the catch? They grow in the swamps! Bee Hives are cleaned out completely, then hauled to the swamps, set on stands or left on anchored boats and checked daily. Some have called Tupelo Honey- the ‘champagne of honey’ which naturally has a slight lemon flavor. Tupelo-Gum-Trees_finchlake2000

The swamps of the Apalachicola River have the highest concentration of Tupelo Trees in the United States. Very close to Alabama’s Gulf Coast- the town of Apalachicola is only 3 square miles, an old and famous fishing village, but also right near the National Forest bearing the same name and the swamps! Needless to say, we’re proud of this Southern Honey! And yes, we do hope our Graham Crackers have a touch of honey, especially when we make our teetotalin’ Graham Cracker crusts!

I actually love the term ‘Ice Box Pie’  – it sounds old fashioned and better yet? Cool… Years ago, once or twice a week- the Ice Man delivered a huge block of Ice hoisted with big tongs and dropped it in the top of the old Oak Ice Box- set inside the house or a storm shelter- the ice would last…well, depending on the time of year- maybe a few days to a week. The time frame for the invention of the Ice Box was also in the 1860’s- Now come on, you thought all that was going on was that awful unpleasantness between the North and the South, right? Not so…Ice Boxes, Graham Flour Products and Sweetened Condensed Milk were finding their way into homes North and South! In fact, just fifty years later, when we were all united under the same flag, wearing the same uniforms– (Southern Ladies do love to see a man in uniform!) Sweetened Condensed Milk made it’s way once again to battlefields and mess halls uniting us all around a product that was safe, had a long shelf life and sustained us all. So, in commemoration of the American version of this sweet milk’s Birthday, August 19, I give you..IMG_3200

Camellia’s Cottage Lemon Ice Box Pie

Honey Graham Cracker Crust

Preheat oven to 350º

  • 8 graham crackers pulsed 8-10 times in food processor
  • 3 tablespoons sugar plus 1 teaspoon of Tupelo Honey (optional)
  • 3/4 stick or 6 Tbs. of melted butter

In mixing bowl combine graham cracker crumbs and  sugar. While the butter is still warm, add Tupelo honey. Add melted butter/honey mixture to graham cracker/sugar mixture and toss together until well combined. Do not overmix. Press into a 9 inch glass pie plate-or spring form pan- pressing crumbs on the bottom and up the sides. Bake until a warm golden brown- 10-15 minutes. Do not overbake.  Cool while making the Lemon Filling.IMG_3195

Lemon Filling

  • 1 can of Sweetened Condensed Milk
  • Zest of one Large Lemon (reserve some zest for garnish)
  • 1/2 cup of freshly squeezed lemon juice (no substitutes!)
  • 3 large egg yolks Fresh Grade A

Blend together condensed milk and egg yolks with hand mixer on low speed- add lemon  juice slowly, blending well. Beat until stiff enough to stand in peaks. Pour into cooled graham cracker crust. Garnish with reserved lemon zest. Chill for at least 6 hours or overnight.  Some folks like to add a meringue, I prefer Citrus Ice Box Pies without a meringue – the soft creamy, cool, tart and softly sweet dessert  seems perfect without embellishment! I am particularly sentimental about Lemon Ice Box Pies since it is the very first pie I learned to make, it’s just that easy!

As an extra note- if you don’t enjoy making pies yourself, should you run up on a Pit Barbeque Joint or a truly Southern restaurant… look for the glass refrigerator case, if they have Ice Box Pies, then you know it’s a great place to eat!  Love y’all, Camellia

*Lemon juice has the effect of ‘cooking’ the eggs, however use caution if a health condition such as pregnancy warns against the consumption of raw eggs. *All photographs are mine, except the photograph of Tupelo Trees which is from http://www.nationalforests.org and may be subject to copyright.

IMG_3298 *The Lee Brothers of South Carolina have an excellent recipe for Sour Orange Ice Box Pie which is only slightly different from mine. This wonderful cookbook can be found through major booksellers * How exciting to have an Eagle Brand cookbook- I’ve had mine for years and I believe they are still available at their website or on Amazon.com Check out http://www.eaglebrand.com and http://www.bordendairy.com/history for more information!

*I’m ashamed to say- I researched Graham Crackers and Tupelo Honey on my own and neglected to source the sites. *Eagle Brand® and Nabisco Honey Grahams® are registered trademarks- Tupelo Honey is a type of honey, if you find it- buy it! Camellia’s Cottage is not a paid advertiser. There are other great brands available as well, Graham crackers, sweetened condensed milk and Tupelo Honey have a long shelf life and should be part of any well stocked pantry!

 

Home Going…

IMG_3292My father in law would have loved his funeral last week… I know, I know…he was ‘absent from the body but present with the Lord’.  Still. If he could have been in the body, he would have loved his Home Going – all of it. But then I’m getting ahead of myself… Wallace Wyatt, Sr. was my father in law for decades, he lived to be 93 years old- he had a long, well lived life. He was born in Cool Springs, then made his life just a few miles over in Beaver Valley- in his beloved St. Clair County. A county older than the State of Alabama, where he served the people for 14 years as their Judge of Probate. I remember he told me once that being Probate Judge was the closest thing to the role of a pastor within our government- with duties ranging from adoptions, marriages, guardianships and of course the end of life business with wills and estates. He said that a good probate judge needed to know and love the people he served. He did. He passed this on to his son- ‘To know and love the people he served.’ This is the motto of a true public servant.

He was surprisingly well travelled for a home body. I recall when he and my mother in law went to Israel, they were in their sixties but both of them rode camels, one of the camels thanked him by spitting in his eye! For their 50th anniversary, one of his daughters asked my father in law if he had gotten their mother a gift- he replied, ‘Well, I bought her a pre-paid funeral plan!’ Of course he got her more than that! On their 60th anniversary- if you can believe it- the two of them went for a little anniversary trip to Cheaha State Park, the highest point in Alabama.  She would die less than two years later. I still miss her every day. Two days after his funeral, would have been their 73rd anniversary, he went to a far higher place to spend it with her. IMG_3249

Always a generous man, when he worked for Alabama Gas Corporation, he ran up on a young girl who was blind, her family told him she was learning Braille. He couldn’t get it out of his mind; so he talked to his Union Brothers about her. Those men raised enough money to buy her a Set of Encyclopedias written in Braille!

Mr. Wyatt was one the Tom Brokaw’s ‘Greatest Generation’– a World War II veteran, who got lost from his unit in France… it was an experience he rarely talked about. Someone at the funeral told me that- lost from his unit in a foreign country in the middle of a war was frightening enough but my father in law ran up on a Mortuary Unit. They fed him and furnished him a place to sleep with the living and the dead. The next morning, the soldiers told him he was welcome to join up with them, he graciously declined saying- ‘Well, you boys sure are nice and I appreciate what you’re doing; a mighty fine job of it too- but if it’s all the same to you, I think I’d ruther be at my own duties then do yours!’ Can’t say I blame him.

The last years of his life were spent at beautiful Veterans Home in our county- the Colonel Robert L. Howard Veteran’s Nursing Home. When he died, his body was prepared…then- while ‘Taps’ was played, his flag draped body was rolled down a long hallway lined with fellow Veterans- standing or in wheelchairs, gave him a final salute- some with arthritic hands.  This is called ‘The Walk’ and is a fitting goodbye to an Old Soldier; he would have loved it.FullSizeRender

His firstborn child was a ‘war baby’, Wallace Jr.(above) -Next, were his pretty girls- following soon after his son, Carol Jane, the next, Eleanor Kay was born 6-7 years later, the last was a late in life baby, Vicki Lynn. Then there was me, his favorite daughter in law. Really.

The first time I went to their home in Beaver Valley, newly engaged- I got ‘The Talk’… He explained, ‘Our family doesn’t believe in divorce, you’re in it for the long haul, just so you know.’ Sort of put the fear of God in me with his bright blue eyes- I nodded in perfect understanding. He restored perfect harmony by playing a stereo record – It was his favorite gospel music group- The Swanee River Boys. swanee river boys

I should say right here that I knew nothing about gospel music- does ‘Michael Row the Boat Ashore’ count? As the Swanee River Boys sang so smooth…I could not believe my ears! Mr. Wyatt alternately sang-All Four. Parts…

  • Bass,
  • Baritone,
  • Tenor and
  • High Tenor, have you ever?

Well, I can tell you now…I still have never heard anything like it.  What I was about to find in this huge family that embraced me… they all could sing or play. In fact I was told, if a baby was born Tone Deaf in the Wyatt family- they pinched their heads off at birth!

Can I just say right here? They (the entire clan) told me stuff like that all the time, for the shock value I guess or maybe they had detected I am practically tone deaf.  I’ll have you know, my children have perfect pitch! Needless to say, there was music at the Funeral for my father in law, last week- just enough and just what he’d like and I tapped my foot a time or two.

A full blown Wyatt event, family reunion, wedding or funeral closely resembles an Ant Bed, occasionally a Fire Ant Bed, depending on who’s there. Pine Forest Baptist was the host of the Ant Bed last week, for decades my father in law was a Deacon there. For the record he would have loved having so many members of his family and the folks that he claimed kin to at his Home Going. vintage women's shoes

He would have loved the ladies in sensible block heels, flats (me), cowboy boots and four inch heels- especially if they were toting a Crock Pot or a Casserole Dish- Oh my! He would have loved the food, do I need to describe it? Groaning Church tables loaded with Food were Begging for Mercy. That’s the most poetic way to describe it. The only thing that was missing was my mother in law’s Coconut Custard Pie.

Pine Forest Baptist is a small Rock Church nestled in a piney grove, the smell of pine always permeated the dinners on the grounds, surrounded by beautiful farmland. Then there was a growth spurt and a fine Trade School was built across the road….Several sent out directions to the funeral service- my favorite was:

‘Head north on 231 toward Ashville, at the crossroads right at the Trade School, turn right like you’re going to Rainbow City, Pine Forest is beside Dollar General on the right.’

Pine Forest was at capacity, there were fine suits and designer dresses, Versace ties, denim and sequins, work clothes and a few in Military Uniforms- My father in law would have loved it all.  His youngest nephew, Danny- the only one who has become a member of clergy was lined up to preach the funeral, three Nieces were asked to sing a favorite gospel song- ‘Unclouded Day’ , his Grandsons were the Pall Bearers and a handsome group that was! This is a family that can put on a funeral at the drop of a hat. My father in law would have loved-

  • hearing his Nieces sing for him one last time,
  • he would have loved Danny’s sermon,
  • he would have loved the Masonic Funeral Rites which were done in such a moving way by Brother Talley.
  • Mr. Wyatt would have loved hearing Taps at graveside and-
  • that the Flag which had draped his body was given to his son.

Yes, he would have loved his Home Going- but most of all- I know he would have loved hearing the recording with his old friend Buford Abner of the Swanee River Boys- the foot tapping upbeat- ‘When I Wake Up That  Morning’

Who knows? He might have been singing along- All. Four. Parts.  As his favorite daughter in law, I would have loved that. There will never be another like him. For sure. William Wallace Wyatt, Sr. was greatly loved. He will be greatly missed … May he rest in peace.

Love y’all, Camellia

*Okay,  I know you want to hear it- take it away Swanee River Boys! https://youtu.be/CVFWDnJtV88

Glorious Clouds…

‘…Stand still and consider the wondrous works of God. Do you know how the clouds are balanced and poised in the heavens, the wonderful works of Him Who is perfect knowledge?’  ‘The heavens proclaim the glory of God. The sky proclaims His Handiwork.’

IMG_3257

Clouds- Glorious Clouds are Earth’s Icing on the Cake, Heavenly Meringues, Floating Islands- Angelic Desserts- Glorious Gifts from God which make us pause, cause us to marvel and contemplate what lies ahead. If such beauty exists here, what glories must lie beyond?  When we raise our earthbound eyes heavenward, Glorious Clouds lift our spirits and nourish our souls beyond the bounds of Earth.

‘In All Things of Nature- There is Something of the Marvelous’

This beautiful photograph of Glorious Clouds was taken from his boat, by our friend, Dow Hill, at sunrise on Lake Guntersville, Alabama. What a dramatic wondrous show of God’s Handiwork! If you find yourself Sailin’ Troubled Waters or Traipsin’ through the Glen of Gloom- Lift up your eyes and contemplate the Handiwork of God…Have a blessed Lord’s Day.

Love y’all, Camellia

* Scripture from Job 37: 14, 16 (Amplified Bible) and Psalm 19: 1 (NIV) ‘In all of Nature…’ quote is credited to Aristotle, Greek Philosopher

Iron Skillet Sandwiches…

IMG_3253No doubt the first Southern sandwich was the iconic Biscuit stuffed with Ham, Bacon, Egg or Sausage- from biscuit to bacon- an Iron Skillet was the vehicle to make these quick breakfast, lunch or supper sandwiches. IMG_3029

The South can’t lay claim to Hamburgers or Grilled Cheese Sandwiches but there’s a good chance the Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato was dreamed up way down this way, with bacon fried up in an Iron Skillet. Even Baloney (go ahead, admit it- you know you love baloney occasionally)- and Hot Dogs are better fried in an Iron Skillet than at the finest Weinie Roast in town! From the working poor to the finest ladies luncheon- sandwiches are a Southern Staple. Iron Skillet Sandwiches take plain sandwiches to a different level. Take Hamburgers- IMG_3094

Here at Camellia’s Cottage, we have an ongoing list of our favorites when we travel. On our favorite Hamburger List-

  • A tiny place in Sausalito, California-oh how I wish I knew the name! The hamburgers are made inside the window on a revolving grill, eaten out of hand still hot, delicious!
  • Also, we agree on Shake Shack in New York City’s Theater District which always makes our top five and
  • Yo’ Mommas – a New Orleans hole in the wall down in the French Quarter is just amazing with a side of their macaroni and cheese and yes! you read that right! You do need to be on foot for miles afterward! Now, their top list  may change but mine always includes
  • A Homemade Hamburger made stove top in what else? My Iron Skillet! After bacon is fried to a crisp, the drippings drained… fresh formed patties are fried until the outside has a crunch and the inside is still moist…oh my! Yes, it stays on my permanent list, especially if there is a summer tomato on it!

Now truly, for those who think they like their homemade hamburgers grilled outside– try adding Smoked Salt to the ground beef mixture along with the smoked bacon flavor from the pan drippings- you may never want to fire up the grill again! I learned this tip from a Southern yet also French trained chef who adds smoked salt to her collard greens!  You can never get the Pit Barbeque flavor at home but a close second is to Oven Roast a small Pork Roast in that Iron Skillet, again using Smoked Salt until the outside of the pork roast is crunchy and crisp but the meat is still tender. Remove the roast, let it rest, then pull or chop, add your favorite Barbeque Sauce or make your own – drain the  pork drippings, add ketchup, hot sauce, lots of lemon juice, more smoked salt and bubble on top of the stove until thickened.  Serve on a good bun. IMG_3083

Obviously, a BLT must have a summer Tomato, crisp Lettuce- (my favorite is Romaine) and toasted bread. If this heat hasn’t zapped your energy, you can always add a Fried Green Tomato or even decorate it with a hard boiled egg.  If you don’t like BLT’s, I’m gonna have to put you on the endangered species list along with the DoDo Bird!

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Iron Skillet Sandwiches are fast, delicious and truly the one pan meal- use up bits and pieces in a Grilled Cheese Sandwich, or get creative by using two different types of cheeses. With this one- not just two different types of cheese- one is always a good quality sliced American Cheese (Come on y’all even Martha Stewart agrees on using American Cheese for the melting quality!) and I added fine grated Sharp Cheddar Cheese. I used day old Italian bread sliced thin and added sliced, pickled Jalapeno Peppers, then buttered the outside of the bread. Let the sandwiches  sizzle on both sides in a bit of butter…I love that the grated cheese gets crunchy in the pan and around the edges. IMG_3253

For a quicker than Sloppy Joe’s, Skillet Sandwich, brown the beef and diced onions until crumbly the same way but add crushed thyme, red pepper flakes and fresh ground black pepper, put the lid on and simmer a few minutes. Pile on buns. Smear buns with yellow mustard, shake a few drops of hot sauce and a slice of pickle or two for what we call a Hot Beef sandwich. Finally, not strictly a sandwich, no one will argue with being fed a Handheld Meat Pie- IMG_2492

These are filled with a mix of ground beef and sausage, onions, garlic and dry thyme…fill some pastry and fry them up in Yo’ Momma’s Iron Skillet… Take a bite off the end of the Meat Pie, and much like Hot Beefs.. squirt some yellow mustard and hot sauce into the Meat Pie , you can’t eat just one!

Well, now that I’ve blown my diet and have gained up just writing this- I probably need to stop having dalliances in the kitchen with my Iron Skillet and eat salads for a day or two… but I know and you know…it won’t be long before I’ll be draggin’ out the cast iron and making more Skillet Sandwiches before the summer tomatoes are gone! IMG_1277

Iron Skillet Sandwiches, the ultimate fast one pan meal!

Love y’all, Camellia

*Meat Pies found in ‘Of Real Roux and Faux Beignets…’ (from 2/28/17 Camellia’s Cottage)  *I use 73/27 ground beef for juicy Hamburgers, but lower fat content 80/20 for Hot Beefs and Meat Pies   *I prefer thick sliced bacon for BLT’s and in Breakfast Biscuits, takes a little longer to cook but just tastes better.  *Smoked Salt tip is from Bon Appetite, Y’all by Virginia Willis- wonderful cookbook if you’re lookin’, *Smoked Salt can be found in most large grocers or online.

Beaches of Alabama…

IMG_3209Maybe it’s the to and fro of the Gulf Tide that pulls us south to the Beaches of Alabama… Our hearts yearn for it. Perhaps Southern Saltwater flows in our veins; we need the Gulf’s infusion every now and then… To stand in the sea casting a line or in solitude like the ever patient Egret watching the horizon….

The ancient rhythm of the tides echo the soul’s heartbeat…. White Sugar Sands gently scrub our bare feet of ordinary workday cares…

Gulf Breezes clear our heads to dream of sandcastles again…Built in a day -Gone the next, but always worth the temporary wonder and pleasure…IMG_3210

‘Patience, patience, patience, is what the sea teaches. Patience and faith. One should lie empty, open, choiceless as a beach- waiting for a gift from the sea.’

A sunrise walk. A perfect shell. Tiny Sandpipers chasing seawater- running out; scampering back on twiggy feet while the ocean plays it’s foamy game. Beaches of Alabama- the jeweled land of Royal Reds, Brown Pelicans, Crystal White Sand, Sapphire Skies and Emerald Water.

We are like Boats waiting … Rocking our silent lullabies. Tethered, waiting to be set free- to sail away to the Beaches of Alabama.

Stunning sunsets, breathtaking colors – then- gently the air, sky and water turn to shimmering priceless Twilight’s Gold….

Take a child, a sweetheart, old friends or heartache to the Beaches of Alabama- Patiently wait for the enchantment to begin…

‘Alabama just breaks my heart- it’s so pretty, it just breaks my heart into little pieces.’

Last Minute Summer Vacations may be coming to a close, yet, here in our Sweet Home Alabama- we know, the Beaches of Alabama have their own special magic- a tonic all year round. Salt Air, Sunlight and Gulf Waters- refresh, renew, heal and restore…

Love y’all, Camellia

* these stunning photographs are the sole property of Jeremy Miniard, we are thankful for his generosity in sharing them with us! Find Jeremy at Jeremy.miniard.fineartsofamerica.com * ‘Gift of the Sea’ quote- by Anne Morrow Lindbergh * ‘Alabama just breaks my heart…’ quote from ‘Mermaids in the Basement’ by Michael Lee West